Chapter 25 – In the Hands of Others

There Lucile stood, hands suffocating herself. She fell down to her knees before the decapitated head of her mother. "Mom..." She whimpered. Then she looked over towards me, still being held up by Momma Madeira and Cynthia. I couldn't dare look her in the eyes, so I looked away.

I swear she was about to jump straight at me but Rose grabbed her and pulled her into a hug. You could tell she was trying not to cry but tears began to slip past. Seeing someone like that, regardless of who they are or what they've done made me almost shed some as well, but Momma Madeira and Cynthia began walking on with me in tow.

As we began to reach the cement walkways I felt a pain in my gut and tried to force what felt like vomit down, but blood began to trickle from my mouth and nose. Momma Madeira saw this and motioned for Cynthia to let me go, making sure to grab me with both her arms and support me.

"Cynthia. I need all peacekeeprs on double guard duty. All teachers need to be notified, we have to make our home safe. All off-duty personnel are to return to duty no matter the reason unless they're too weak to protect others." She barked these orders at Cynthia who promptly responded with a "Yes ma'am!" and took off.

That was when she swept me off my feet, grabbing my still intact knee from the back, careful not to hurt my arm or leg anymore. She sprouted her giant wings and took flight, I was still too in shock from everything to respond or even care that I hated heights.

Before I knew it we landed on the balcony of the same room I visit so often. Momma Madeira opened the sliding glass door and called for the nurse, but no one was there. She sat me down on a bed and quickly rummaged through the mini-fridge I never once noticed. Pulling out a glass of mermaids blood she immediately spun off the top and damn near forced it down my throat.

I gulped it down and gulped for air afterwards. Then something strange began to happen. Not unlike before I felt my bones melding back together, but this time it was with a searing pain, like it was molten lava mending then. I began to seethe, quietly at first as Momma Madeiras eyes were dead on me, but I couldn't stop from clenching my teeth and making a pained face.

When it was all over I looked up to Momma Madeira, who obviously could tell. "What the hell was that...?" I asked softly.

She took the jar from me and sat down next to me, pulling me into a tight hug, but still holding me gently. "You've drank too much in too short of time. If we can't stop you from getting hurt then every time it's going to hurt more until the excess foreign blood leaves your system, instead of working as an aphrodisiac like normal. Don't worry this will NOT happen again, I can't believe I let it happen in the first place. Before anything though, I need you to calm down so you can tell me exactly what went on."

I thought I was calmed down, especially compared to before, but upon closer inspection I realized my entire body was still shaking. I just went limp in her arms, trying to breathe regularly again, and after a few minutes finally succeeded.

"I... I don't really remember. I was chilling with Vanya and..." At that exact moment my eyes shot wide and I looked up to the woman who had her arms and wings wrapped around me. "Is she okay?" I asked quickly, losing all the cool I had collected in the past few moments.

"Shh... Shh..." Momma Madeira shushed me and ran her hand over my head like a child. "She's okay... It's okay now."

I lowered my head into her chest and closed my eyes. "No... It's not.. Liara.."

"It's okay..." She whispered, squeezing me tightly against her now that all my pain had subsided. "It's not your fault. I never imagined we would see another Shadow Salamander, we thought my Mom had got rid of all of them. Liara may be able to take Pyreliths but nothing short of a Oni stands a chance against one of the Black Generals."

Liara... Take the Pyreliths... No.

It all clicked back into place, I guess the shock had shorted my memory. I nearly vomited on the floor but I used everything I had to keep it down. I couldn't tell her, something just came over me then and I was so scared of what it was. But even before that... Lucile... That was her Mother... I remembered that she could read my mind if she wanted to, so as hard as it was I quickly banished that thought process.

She spoke to me as soft as she could, she probably didn't want to ask but she had to. "So... You were with Vanya, and the Pyreliths came out. Liara came and killed them, and the Black General killed her. I imagine she was the one who hurt you?"

I just stayed quiet and tried not to think of it, she assumed that was a yes.

"Then Rose got her?" She asked, stroking my hair gently.

"Yeah..." At least that part was true.

She completely picked me up and sat me in her lap, wrapping her arms, wings, and tail all around me, tucking my head under her chin and my skin against hers. Though able to think clearly, I was obviously still shaking and shivering. We stayed like this silently for I don't know how long, before there was a knock on the door. She released me from her wings but still kept an arm around me. "Come in."

Rose opened the door and walked in, a small bit of black blood still on one of her claws. Diana was behind her, peeking her head out from the side to check me out while Rose walked slowly in front of her. "You alright?" Diana asked, to which I nodded.

"There will be a strict curfew for dusk until hard day from here on, relay that to all other peacekeepers." Momma Madeira told the dragons. "Chance... I know you like to do your own thing, but I simply will not let this happen again... We're going to start by getting you a roommate... A strong one, that can protect you if necessary."

I looked up to protest but recognized the futility of it at this point. Then Rose stepped forward and said "I have the perfect person in mind.". To which Momma Madeira just nodded.

"Rose, Diana, make sure he gets back safe, I've got a lot of work to do." She told them before slowly sitting up and setting me on the floor. I slinked between the dragons with Momma Madeiras hand on my back. They all silently nodded to each other, both walking and slithering beside me.

There was no talking. We continued outside in the daylight and on to the Jewels building. Though once we got there the dragons finally spoke up, them being the ones considering I did not know what to say.

"Chance, we're going to stay near the Jewels building, but I recommend you find someone to stay with you tonight. Not so much for your safety, but rather... You still look shook up, it's best not to be alone at times like these." Rose told me, to which I again silently nodded.

She pat me on the back with the claw that didn't still have some blood on it, though it was less of a pat and more like a catapult launching a rock at me; I almost fell over. I walked into the lobby and saw plenty of girls I knew, but ignored them completely and walked on. I noticed their eyes locked on to me like always, but it felt a bit... Different.

I'm sure they don't know what happened yet, but just the air surrounding me told them something was going on. I made my way to my room, and closed the door behind me, making sure to lock it. I walked over the kitchen, the sound of crunching glass under my boots permeating the room. Don't get me wrong, today was fucked all around... But, the one thing I couldn't get out of my head was Lucile's face. It was one I had seen before, but still... It was haunting. Since it would provide a momentary distraction, I grabbed a broom and dustpan and swept up all the broken glass on my floor.

Needing another distraction, I resolved to open up the liquor cabinet, and took out a bottle of Grants 18 year old Scotch Whiskey. I kind of smiled a bit, whoever brought this really knows good liquor. I took the cap off and took a long swig from the bottle, but then I screwed it back on, and put it back up.

I resolved to just sit down on the couch for a bit. I sat myself down, and laid back against the cushions of the couch. I was still shook up, I knew that for sure from my knees still shaking, but I was exhausted as well. I sat there for a few minutes, unsure of what to do. I was about to get up to get another drink, but then I remembered I still had my flask in my boot. I took it out and stared at it for a good minute, but then just threw it on the end of the couch. Laying my head against the cushions I stayed like this until I drifted off.

Knock, knock, knock. My eyes jet open and in sudden random movements I threw myself off the couch accidentally; guess I was still kind of tripping out. "Yeah, I'm coming." I said to the person on the other side. I opened the door and was surprised to see it was no one person, it looked more like half the floor. However, the one right in front of me was Ruby.

"Hey... We heard what happened... You okay?" The red dragon asked me.

"Yeah... Yeah." I responded kind of quickly, moving to the side to let the girls in. Ruby of course came first, followed by Cathy, Blair, Vulpe, Callidus, Vanya, Ryo, Shinobu, and surprisingly Cynthia. They all were carrying something too, my nose said mostly food, which was good, cause I was hungry. Cynthia, however, handed me something quite different.

"Here. Forget the horn, this radio will be much more efficient. I'ts pre-tuned to my frequency, not the Peacekeepers frequency. Everything that comes through will be only for my ears." She said while handing me a very obviously military hand radio.

"Thanks. Yeah that's a lot better than a horn."

"With this in mind... Don't radio me for women problems unless you really need to." She told me with a grin.

I chuckled softly, sporting what I could muster for a smile. "Alright, fair enough." before putting the radio on the kitchen counter. Cynthia shut the door as Vanya came up to me.

"I'm sorry I couldn't..." She began to trail off slightly but I just put a hand on her shoulder before she could try anymore.

"You don't have to worry, so let's not talk about it." I tried reassuring her, as well as making sure the topic stayed avoided. I'm sure the other girls heard me as well.

"We all brought enough food for a big feast, though I'm sure some here are better cooks than others." Ruby said, but meanwhile Vulpe snickered at Callidus, I'm guessing they were the examples.

"Well, y'all can count me out of that lot. I'm a terrible cook unless you're giving me a grill. I still don't know where everything is though, so y'all'll have to find whatever y'all need yourselves." I told them. I normally try to suppress my Texan drawl but when I'm excited it usually becomes fruitless to try.

They all giggled at my accent, then Vulpe, Ruby, Vanya, Cynthia, Shinobu, and Ryo made their way towards my kitchen. Blair and Callidus both grabbed me by my arms and rushed me over to the couch. They sat me down with Callidus on one side and Cathy on the other.

"Hey what movies do you have?" Blair asked me excitedly, I guess because normally I'd kick her out.

"Below the albums." I told her. The way they were arranged is all my movies sat under the tv in a hollowed shelf and the albums on a shelf above that one. I noticed she actually went skimming through the albums first, because she pulled one of my favorites out. "Phobia" by Breaking Benjamin.

"Hey! You have my brothers album! All of them, it seems." She exclaimed. I almost choked on thin air when she said that, I had completely forgotten about her last name and the question that followed.

"Wait... You're really Benjamin Burnley's sister?"

"Yep!" She said giddily, this time pulling out not a movie, but rather the first season of Game Of Thrones. Considering the amount of fucking that's in the first season I suppose it was a perfect choice.

"I have a lot of questions for you now, but they'll wait until after. Though, that's a lot of screen time."

"What? Got plans?" She asked jokingly.

I paused for a moment, debating whether or not to match the sarcasm, but just scoffed it off, being too tired. "Fair enough, I'm not showing you how to work a playstation though, I don't have a dvd player." I noticed out the corner of my eye Cynthia glared at me momentarily, so I responded with a cheesy grin.

"I know how to work a playstation, seriously how old fashioned do you think I am?" Blair retorted.

Cynthia twitched and her lips curled into a growl but she didn't make any noise so no one would notice her. It took quite a bit to keep from laughing, but I couldn't let it go there.

"Old fashioned enough I'd be surprised if you knew how to tune a radio." I took another jab at Cynthia.

"Dammit Chance I'm gonna come over there and kick your ass!" Cynthia shouted at me, already past her breaking point.

"I'd take an ass-kicking over troll stew any day!"

"You said it was good!" She shouted again, her face getting comically red.

"It was, but it was troll! I don't eat things that eat me!"

Cynthia growled for a moment, but then took the bag she held in her other hand and threw it in the trash. "Fine."

"You actually brought more troll?! If I didn't know any better I'd say you're trying to kill me too!" I stopped myself for a moment after shouting that, just a very brief moment, so the others wouldn't notice my knee shake, and exhaled a deep breath. Cynthia walked by to side on the other side of Cathy, and slapped the living shit out of me with her tail on her way over there.

"Ow dammit! How the fuck is your tail stronger than a humans fist?"

"You asked for it." She retorted to me, taking a seat and smooshing Cathy into me, me into Callidus; I need a bigger couch. We sat around and made a bunch of small talk until the food was ready. I'll tell you one thing, these girls really know how to cook. Steak, all medium rare, fish, steamed veggies, even some kind of ice cream cake for desert. I imagine this wasn't exactly a normal meal for a normal day, they were probably trying to get my mind off of what had happened earlier, and I guess it was working.

When the food came around Blair popped in the first season of Game Of Thrones. Walking to me, she instead of sitting on an open seat on one of my three couches, sat in the middle of my legs on the floor. At this point I was too exhausted from the day and stuffing my face with too much food to care. We barely made any small talk, I would have liked that since I already knew what happened from watching it before, and reading the books before that, but most of them had not apparently. During the fighting scenes Cynthia seemed like a little child, and during the sex scenes nearly everyone was somewhat drooling.

I couldn't help but giggle a couple times, but I mostly kept my mouth shut and just appreciated the moment. For a while that is...

Eventually, the season came to an end, and for those who have seen it they know the beheading scene I'm talking about but for those that have not I won't spoil. When that sword came down, and the head came off, all the relaxing I had been able to get done went right out the window. I jolted, not enough for everyone to noticed, but I just saw Liara's head fly off her body all over again. I almost hurled, and was about to stand up and make an excuse to go to the bathroom, but Cathy slyly grabbed my hand. It seemed she was the only one to notice, but she didn't make a big deal out if. Instead, she just held my hand gently, and when I finally looked over to her she smiled as gently the same.

I took a moment to take a breath, but it was Cathy who actually calmed me down. She was pretty sneaky, snaking her tail around my waist without anyone, even me, noticing. I guess this is what Rose meant having them there for me was helping a lot. But even so, I couldn't get my mind off Lucile. I felt so sorry for her, I know her Mom basically tried to kill me off but still, that was her Mom. If I saw my Mom like that...

Everyone was dead set on the TV, so they didn't notice, and neither did I; one single small tear began to drip down my face. I was leant back against the couch, everyone else leant forward, except the one who was entirely focused on me. I felt Cathy's gloves finger slid gently across my check and wipe the tear away. I turned to look at her, silently, with an expression I know not how to describe. I expect ridicule for crying, after all, I'm supposed to be a man, right?

That's not what I saw on Cathy's face, all she had was a gentle smile. One that almost brought a stream from my eyes. Instead of trying to sit and cope, I just closed my eyes and laid motionless against the couch. I felt Cathy slowly lean on, and against me, resting her head on my shoulder. I let out, what I felt, to be a smile, however small, and my head lost its weight and rest on hers.